A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. – Psalm 91:7
Since being retired and seeing our youngest child leave the nest, I have not yet found myself sitting around looking for something to do, as I had feared I would when I was younger. Rather, I can do those things I used to procrastinate about years ago, when the mantra seemed to be “I don’t have time!” Well, that excuse isn’t going to cut it these days. As surprisingly busy as I am, I can always find time for prayer, if I make it priority – which, of course, I should!
I have friends who will get upset with me if I say I have OCD – “That’s a negative confession!” But having obsessive-compulsive tendencies can serve a useful purpose when a commitment is made. I take my commitments seriously, especially when it comes to my commitments to God. There are certain things I have committed to praying for daily, and as far as I’m concerned, if I committed, I’d jolly well better do it!
One of these “daily” things is “putting on the spiritual armor,” as Paul described in Ephesians 6. Not that I think I’d be spiritually vulnerable if I didn’t “put it on” each day. (After all, I don’t remember ever taking it off.) But it’s a good reminder for me of how God has prepared His children for battle. (He doesn’t need reminding, but I do.) So, meditating on relevant Scripture, I “put on” the belt of truth,” “the helmet of salvation,” and “the breastplate of righteousness,” as I give the Lord my body, my mind, and my heart for the day. As I do, I feel my soul being built up to have a right mindset for whatever happens that day. (Romans 8:5) Someday I’ll write a piece about this process.
“Having my feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) involves just asking God to send me where He wants me to go that day, letting me encounter the people He wants me to encounter, and speaking the words He wants me to say. This prayer excites me! I never know how it will be answered by the time the day is over.
While Paul calls our faith the shield “that quenches all the fiery arrows of the evil one,” (Ephesians 6:16) the Old Testament tells us God’s faithfulness is a shield and fortress. (Psalm 91:4) God’s faithfulness has been with me – over and around me, shielding me from harm – even longer than my faith. And His faithfulness is what covers the people I love. So, I pray daily for His faithfulness to shield each of my family members and anyone who has been part of our household in the past. (We’ve had some pretty special people living with us through the years.) I also pray for people I once sponsored, wherever they are, that the Lord’s hand is still in their lives.
Finally, I pray a shield around the kids I’m sponsoring now. One of these is Ibra, my teenager in Uganda. I wrote a post about him a while back:
Since Uganda has been on lockdown and schools are not in session, Ibra has been staying with friends in the city of Kampala instead of the orphanage. I trust the Lord is keeping him safe, along with my sponsored children in other countries.
Tuesday morning of last week I got a Facebook message from Ibra, telling me, “… we have lost some Ugandans.” This was due to an attack in the city that killed some, injured others. “ … and this happened when I was in the city and I saw this happen glory to God that I was not affected I was protected by him who lives in me.” He sent me a couple of very gruesome photos, and by the end of the day, when I had heard nothing about this on the American news, a part of me wondered if this had really happened (Teenagers, you know …).
But that evening I googled “bombing in Uganda,” and sure enough, earlier that day in Kampala two bombs had been set off, with people killed and some severely injured. And my kid Ibra saw it up close, but hadn’t a scratch on him! I guess you never know when those “routine prayers” might make a crucial difference.
There have been countless times I’ve traveled, and friends pray for “safe travels” for me, and I don’t usually think much about it, other than, That’s a sweet thought. There have certainly been more urgent prayers in our circles. But occasionally I will arrive at my destination and contact a friend to thank him/her for the prayers – after a semi had come at me and missed me by inches. And I have to wonder, are there other close calls I don’t even know about?
Amy Grant once sang, “God only knows the times my life was threatened just today/ A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way. / Near-misses all around me, accidents unknown,/ Though I’ll never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.“*
But God sees, and thankfully, He’s got His angels watching over us.
Prayer: Father, thank You for your care and protection as we go about our days, usually oblivious to the enemy’s plans. We’re so grateful we don’t have to live in fear, but we can trust You to bring us to the end of our lives with Your plans for us fulfilled, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
*”Angels Watching Over Me” from the Album “Straight Ahead,” Myrrh Records, 1984